Wasps boss Lee Blackett has explained the reason behind not playing his two Georgian internationals is for ‘pure selection reasons’.
Loosehead prop Zurabi Zhvania, signed in the summer of 2018, has played only 10 minutes in more than a year as the likes of Tom West, Simon McIntyre and Ben Harris have battled for the number one shirt.
His fellow countryman Lasha Jaiani joined in early January but the second row has yet to appear in a matchday squad.
Both featured recently for Georgia in their 16-7 victory over Russia to secure their Rugby Europe Championship title. For Zhvania, it was cap number 41 as nearly two years in international exile – which included the 2019 Rugby World Cup – came to an end.
Jaiani, aged 22, earned cap number seven having also impressed during his country’s Autumn Nations Cup campaign.
Their continued absence from teamsheets has prompted Wasps supporters to regularly pose the question as to why on social media, especially in the case of Zhvania, who had endeared himself to fans during his first season-and-a-half at the club.
“[It’s] just pure selection reasons,” said Blackett.
“We’ve got two different guys here. We’ve got Lasha who is very young, he’s very inexperienced at this level. Ideally he needs some game time, he’s going back to Georgia so he’s going to be playing for Georgia for some game time. If he wasn’t doing that, we’d be sending him to a Championship club.
“He’s in a different pen to where a ZZ would be. Lasha, was a development signing for us. We know he’s nowhere near the finished article and we are working hard to get him as much game time as we possibly can to see him play.”
Georgia’s defence of their Rugby Europe Championship title starts on Saturday against Portugal, with matches to follow against Spain, Russia and Romania before the end of the month.
Jaiani has been named in the squad, but Zhvania’s name is missing.